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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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The Gloria uses five words in sequence as synonyms for each other:  “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,” and then a fifth closely aligned word, “we give you thanks for your great glory.”  Certainly there is a matter here of emphasis that comes with repetition.  But there are also nuances of meaning that expand upon our response to God’s majesty.  

We “praise” God for just being God.  Even if we were given nothing in return, it is the posture of the creature to praise the Creator.  Men and women as the stewards of creation do this in a conscious and active manner. The lesser acknowledges the greater.

As in the psalms, all of creation just by its existence “blesses” God who is the source of all blessings.  Something of the divine spark that breathes life into things and gives them order and purpose is reflected back.  “Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, my soul” (Psalm 103:1-2). This form of blessing and praise is spontaneous, akin to a necessary reflex.  We see this in Psalm 148.  God is blessed or praised “in the heights,” by “all his angels,” by “sun and moon,” by “shining stars,” by “highest heavens,” by “waters above the heavens,” by “sea monsters,” by “lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds,” by “storm wind,” by “mountains and hills,” by “fruit trees and cedars,” by “animals wild and tame,”  by “creatures that crawl and birds that fly,” by “kings and all peoples,” by “young men and women too,” and by “old and young alike.”

When we “adore” or offer adoration to almighty God we are literally praising God on the level of worship.  Catholics also use the word adoration for devotion to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  This is a testimony to his divinity as divine worship is restricted to God.  Such praise offered directly to anything less would constitute false worship and the sin of idolatry. We may offer special devotion to Mary and veneration to the saints but true worship is always directed to God.  Indeed, the proper object for all Christian prayer is almighty God, even when we beseech intercessory prayer from one another and the saints in glory.  We are asking them to pray with and for us to almighty God.  The highest or most important prayer of adoration or worship is the Mass.  Giving “glory” to God is literally to join the angels in what is the eternal operation of heaven, glorifying God.  There is nothing lacking in God that we can give him.  Giving glory really reflects a movement in the creature.  All eyes in paradise share the beatific vision in seeing God.  The creatures of heaven, angels and men, find themselves in glorifying God. It is at the heart for which we are made. As the old catechism relates, God made us so that we might know him, love him and serve him in this world and give glory to him forever in the next. Our spiritual penetration of the Trinity will allow us as finite creatures to enter ever deeper and deeper into the divine mystery.  We will know God and share in divine love but such glorification of God can never exhaust who he is. Rather, beginning now, we are the ones transformed and graced by such worship, first at the Mass and later at the heavenly banquet table.        

We also give “thanks” to God, yes for his glory but also for how this glory has been expressed or realized in his revelation and many gifts to us. God gives us life and those things necessary for sustaining and enriching life.  He also gives us his Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Indeed, this is why the word Thanksgiving or Eucharist becomes a sacred name for this holy sacrament.  The whole Church around the world and throughout all human history joins with the hosts of heaven in giving thanks to God.  The Gloria concludes almost as if it were a creed.  We profess both the divine unity (the natural revelation and faith that God is one) and the supernatural understanding of God as a Trinity of persons.

The hymn of the angels on the night of the first Christmas becomes our own.  The incarnation realizes God coming down from heaven so as to enter the family of men.  Similarly the Mass will allow this same Christ to be present in bread and wine as our saving food.  Nothing and no one could force God’s hand.  The Word becomes flesh purely because God so loved us that he sends his beloved Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.  He would lay down his life and then take it up again.  Nothing would ever be the same.

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